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Meyer’s Musings: Sophomoric Ideals and Behavior

SOPHOMORIC IDEALS AND BEHAVIOR

REV. PHILIP MEYER, PASTOR EMERITUS
02 July 2020

Sophomoric means “pretentious” or “juvenile.” The term “sophomore” is well-known in the English speaking world. After the freshman class in both high school and college comes the sophomore year. We probably get “freshman” pretty well. A freshman, or frosh, is a new student. We also get “junior” and “senior,” but sophomore takes a little digging. It comes from two Greek words, sophos, means clever, skillful, experienced. It also means wise or learned of human intelligence. From that same root comes sophia, the word for wisdom. It’s often used in the New Testament. For example, the Apostle Paul wrote that he did not come in clever speaking but in the power of Christ crucified. Clever speaking can also be called sophistry. That means to speak with the intent to deceive.

Under our classification of names no reasonable person would believe that one who has merely completed the freshman year [and I’m aware that some people believe that to be a sexist term requiring a change to “freshperson”] is complete. After all, there are three more years until a diploma or degree is awarded.

But to the second part of sophomore. More [more-a] in English doesn’t tell us anything. It, too, comes from the Greek, moros, or fool. It means foolish, stupid. We get our word moron from this word. The Apostle Paul puts the two together in Romans 1.22-23 when he speaks of the ungodly:

“Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.”

In this present context we have witnessed rioting and insurrection for weeks. If one notices those doing the despicable things to public property one sees predominantly young people, college students I suspect. Whatever their class in college they simply are sophomores, wise fools. They simply chant the same mantras over and over. There is no reasoned discourse, just shouting followed by violence against anyone who disagrees with them and violence against property. Juvenile is a word used above in our definition. It means childish, immature. This is a person who is not yet ripe with age. There is a reason why societies have always had a threshold of age to ensure that the privileges of adulthood are given to adults and not sophomores. Yet, I am hearing a demand to lower these privileges to sixteen year olds, sophomores in high school.

Not a few people have asked, “Where are the adults in the room and why aren’t they speaking up?” It’s a fair question. All our social ills finally come back to the family structure. Yet, that structure which is pan cultural is under attack in our nation by these wise fools. They didn’t invent it. It seems that perhaps their parents or grandparents did. Think 1960s and the upheaval of that decade. It’s back with a vengeance. Those sophomores have given birth to even worse sophomores aided by academia.

Our entertainment modules have endorsed it. In the 1950s there were TV shows where family units were intact and the father was respected and honored. Of course, few families actually functioned like “Father Knows Best” or “Leave It to Beaver,” but it reflected the mores and values of that time. Fathers were respected.

Now the family unit has been tossed on the burning pyre by these sophomores. First, fathers were portrayed as idiots, bigots, and know nothings. It wasn’t long before the rate of illegitimacy soared. In the black community it is 70%. Shelby Steele, a black scholar from Stanford, points this out over and over again as does Walter Williams. Yet, we have heard certain politicians repeat the Marxist ideal that “it takes a village to raise a child.” The village, not the parents. Parents can be jettisoned and the village will do it. So how’s it going for us?

Columnist Gavrielle Rodriguez has pointed out that the mass dishonoring of our elders is destroying society. Our elders are merely thought of as doddering old fools who know nothing. Experience in life counts for nothing according to the sophomores of this age. I’ll admit that some of those who are elders have contributed to this slide into lunacy because they never graduated from the sophomore class! They don’t speak up. Perhaps they are intimidated by their so-called “brilliant” children because the kids can solve difficult mathematical problems.

Our society has extolled what Rodriguez calls “the ethos of adolescence, assigning equivalent value to the whims of youth, in contrast to the prudence of adulthood.” As her example she cites climate expert Greta Thunberg, the 16 year old who dares to tell the world that she knows best. She’s the same age as a high school sophomore! She claims that her generation has “done their homework” while her parents’ generation has not.

This culture is called “woke,” a term I find grammatically untenable. They believe themselves enlightened, but think back to Paul’s words in Romans 1 cited about. Read the whole section.

Classic thinkers are no longer read in the university. They’ve been jettisoned. The past must be destroyed, wiped clean according to the mob rule which seems not to understand the past at all. They shall not learn from the mistakes of their elders because they are destroying all evidence of it. Anyone who is even suspected of not being “woke” is “canceled.” They lose their jobs and they become social lepers in a supposedly open and “accepting” society. They only acceptable position is the one which is perverse and demeaning. Those who are not woke are openly derided and ostracized

Father Dwight Longenecker wrote: “Our society exhibits all the incapacities of old age without the wisdom.” It is hoped that as we age we gain wisdom. It comes from experience, from mistakes, of learning, of confessing sins and being forgiven. There is no forgiveness in this sophomoric culture. They haven’t learned to be civilized. Christian values are hated and derided. They’ve simply learned to scream and throw tantrums and some old fools will give in just to keep the peace or hope it will go away. The path to wisdom has been short circuited.

In Leviticus 19.32 God commanded:

You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.

And the Apostle Peter makes it clear

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” [1 Peter 5.5]

It is our duty as Christians to heed the Word of God and not the sophomores of this age. We must steep ourselves in God’s Word and in the pattern that he has given us, the only one which can bring wisdom and peace.

Post Script

On 27 June I watched a video clip [It was on Twitter] of a BLM person [white female] accusing a white D.C. police officer of being racist. The officer defended himself saying that he had a black wife. The protester would not let up and continued to berate the officer. Two black police officers were working with him. One of them told her that having a conversation with her was impossible because she has a “one track mind.” A real conversation didn’t fit her agenda. The protester then demanded to see the white officer’s wife’s photo.

One of the black officers responded:

“How dare you ask for this man’s family? You don’t know him. You don’t know him. No, no, no, no, no, no. Why would you assume that because he’s white he can’t have a black wife? Why would you? I’m just curious. Let me tell you something.”

At this point the second black officer interrupted.

“American has a sin problem. The world has a sin problem, ma’am, okay? Jesus said, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ America and the world has a sin problem. You understand me? That’s where racism, injustice, and hate and anger and violence come from. It’s not about racism.”

[Side note: See my sermon for 21 June elsewhere on this website. We are agreed in this point!]

Sitting there alone viewing this I cheered out loud! Yes! There are some who get it! A brother in Christ came to this man’s defense. He spoke up. He spoke God’s truth clearly. That’s what we need to be doing also. All Christians need to say this. Let’s pray that this officer doesn’t lose his job for confessing the truth and faith in Christ.

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